In his daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was as haughty and boastful as ever.
The difference this time was that the Albany press pack didn’t give him a free pass.
It’s incredible how highly he rates himself when he has presided over the most COVID deaths of any state in the nation by far — 22,976 as of Wednesday, some seven times more than California, 11 times more than Florida. New York still hasn’t come to grips with why that is. The disparity is not a random act of God, as the governor would have us believe.
He bears at least some culpability. He was slower to respond to the threat of the virus. And then he compounded that error with the unforgivably callous act of forcing nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients — a death sentence for other residents as the infection spread like wildfire.
And yet, not a trace of worry do we see on Cuomo’s tanned face.
There is no remorse, just buck-passing.
Wednesday, for instance, he blamed President Trump for the nursing-home deaths. The chutzpah is astonishing.
But at least he faced tough questions about a potential federal probe into his March 25 directive to nursing homes.
“I have refrained from politics,” he said, laughably. “But anyone who wants to ask ‘why did the state do that with COVID patients and nursing homes,’ it’s because the state followed President Trump’s CDC guidance.
“So they should ask President Trump.”
Cuomo even tried to claim that the more-than-5,500 deaths connected to nursing homes in New York was a better toll, per capita, than most other states.
But the state Department of Health seems to have fudged the death toll, admitting it does not count nursing-home residents who ended up dying in hospital of the coronavirus, so the real numbers are much higher.
Asked about this convenient accounting, Cuomo returned to Trump: “The state followed President Trump’s CDC guidance . . . No numbers were changed.”
A reporter pointed out that Cuomo has shown a “willingness to thwart President Trump at other times.” Why not on his March 25 nursing-home directive?
Good question, which Cuomo couldn’t answer.
Instead, he switched to blaming the nursing homes.
“In retrospect, do you think that was a bad decision? Do you think it contributed to the death toll?”
“No,” said Cuomo. “Because you have to be saying the nursing homes were wrong in accepting COVID-positive patients.”
It is Kafkaesque. First, he orders nursing homes to obey a directive with his name emblazoned at the top of the page: “All NHs must comply with the expedited receipt of residents returning from hospitals . . . No resident shall be denied readmission or admission to the NH solely on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.”
The nursing homes were “prohibited” in that March 25 directive even from COVID-testing discharged patients.
But now that the policy has blown up in his face, he blames those same nursing homes for doing what he ordered them to do.
“We always had alternative beds . . . Any nursing home could just say, ‘I can’t handle a COVID person.’ ”
Yet in April he told a reporter at a press conference that the nursing homes “don’t have the right to object.”
His reversal of the directive on Mother’s Day was a tacit acknowledgement of wrongdoing, as was the legal indemnity for nursing homes that he reportedly slipped into the state budget in late March.
The terrible thing about Cuomo is that he has the appearance of being everything he’s not. He is a facsimile of a take-charge alpha male who stands up and takes responsibility. In reality, he behaves like a dithering, vain, deceitful bully.
He appears to be a moral Catholic family man who talks about his days as an altar boy and expresses concern for the sanctity of life.
“To me, I say the cost of a human life, a human life is priceless. Period,” he philosophized one day while trying to justify his decision to keep everyone in lockdown.
But it’s not true. He doesn’t think every human life is precious at all.
Last year he pushed for euthanasia legislation and gloated about signing into law the state’s late-term abortion laws. He even had One World Trade Center lit in hot pink in an obscene celebration of death.
And didn’t he just tell us breezily last week, as the heat from his nursing-home fiasco dialed up: “Older people, vulnerable people are going to die from this virus. That is going to happen despite whatever you do.”
He made sure of it.
We knew from the start of the pandemic that the frail elderly were most at risk. Florida, with its big retired population, moved early to protect nursing homes.
A mistake is one thing, but Cuomo’s lack of remorse or self-doubt is chilling.
“I feel very good about how exhaustive I have been in communicating,” he boasted on Wednesday.
It is true he has been communicating “exhaustively.”
His “love gov” routine — joking around with his brother on CNN and strutting his stuff as New York’s most eligible bachelor — has done wonders for his approval ratings.
But it doesn’t save the people who died distressing deaths, unnecessarily and alone, in nursing homes that he knew could barely cope at the best of times.
Ex-cop with good shot at beating AOC
No matter how sick you are of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it’s hard to imagine that a Republican could dislodge her from her deep blue stronghold in The Bronx and Queens.
But if anyone can do it, it’s John Cummings. Born and bred in the Bronx, he’s an-ex cop injured in the line of duty who retired to become a civics teacher at his old Catholic school, Saint Raymond in The Bronx.
Judging by the hefty $2 million he has already raised and the enthusiastic reaction from district residents, it’s not as much of a long shot as you’d think.
“AOC is a far left socialist, and a lot of the people that live in that district are working people, homeowners, union people, people who work in the service industry, in health and hospitals, in construction, firefighters, police . . . They’re not looking for high taxes. They’re not looking for socialized medicine. They like their health insurance.”
AOC won the seat from incumbent Democrat Joe Crowley in a primary upset in 2018. Crowley was a “moderate, a Reagan Democrat,” who had the seat for more than two decades, but ended up taking it for granted, says Cummings, 59, whose ideology is closer to Crowley’s than is AOC’s.
“She has done a great job of creating a national persona. But when it comes to the district, she doesn’t even have her own office in the Bronx.”
With any luck, the 14th Congressional District has a bad case of buyer’s remorse.
Nancy steps in it
You could tell Nancy Pelosi thought she was clever when she delivered her “morbidly obese” insult against the president. She couldn’t keep the Queen Bee smirk off her face. Buoyed by the adulation of Trump haters, she followed up Wednesday, comparing him to a child with “doggy doo on his shoes.”
It’s pathetic. But it also is a political “own goal,” in a way a geriatric Mean Girl can’t fathom. Trump couldn’t care less, and the insults only confirm the elitism and snobbery that lurk beneath the surface of the Democratic Party.
The party views half of America as fat, deplorable, smelly Walmart people. It’s no way to win an election.